There was a sense of achievement around horse racing last night as news of the budget began to circulate in relation to how it had fared.
One of the key elements of proposals before this budget and many before had been a raising of betting duty in order to solidify the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund.
This was announced in the budget speech with betting duty rising from one to two per cent of turnover. It seems minor with memories of a 20 per cent rate still within living memory but the betting world has changed irrevocably since then and the dawn of online betting effectively removed the awareness of betting tax for those who bet.
It is accepted as a cost to be borne by operators in order to remain competitive but will have a major impact on the business of those local shops for whom Ireland is the only real market.
The betting industry has spoken of a doomsday scenario with the closure of hundreds of betting shops and loss of jobs.
The increase has been called for over the past six years and consistently pushed aside on economic grounds but soaring levels of betting activity and growing concern over social impact has almost made it the ‘carbon tax’ of this budget in the sense of behavioural engineering.
The money going to the sports of horse and greyhound racing was originally linked to betting duty and the rise is perhaps partly responsible for the €4 million rise in funding towards the two.
An additional €3.2 million will go towards horse racing and €800,000 towards the dogs in 2019 making their respective allocations rising to €67.2 million and €16.8 million.
Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh welcomed the budget news, saying that the increase in betting duty and funding were both part of their submission pre-budget.
He also highlighted the dangers of Brexit to the industry and would be looking at the measures introduced to protect Irish agriculture and sport in the event of that going badly.